What's making a splash?Published on February 29, 2008

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  • Image provided by Moen

  • Image provided by Moen

  • Image provided by Moen

Ottawa's best-dressed bathrooms are giving a whole new meaning to the term personal comfort in 2008.

According to local experts, the trend of creating your very own spa at home is still going strong, with area bathrooms becoming decidedly decadent. We've asked Jennifer Cameron, a designer at Bathrooms First, Linda Nolan, of Linda Nolan Interiors, and Bob Gould, manager of Westend Bath and Kitchen, to come clean about the hottest trends for bathrooms.

1. Serene retreat

Jennifer uses words like oasis, escape, and luxurious to describe what her customers want from their bathroom renovations. "People are looking to escape from the stress of their lives and the trend is toward the sublime," says Jennifer. "Now the unattainable is attainable." To create a soothing place, the focus is on natural materials, decadent décor and soft lighting. "Plus bathrooms keep getting bigger and bigger," adds Linda, who recently completed work on the Windmills project atop the Great Canadian Theatre Company in Westboro. "Clients are stealing space so that they can make their retreat even more luxurious."

2. Steamy choice

The shower has taken over from the tub as the first priority in a bathroom luxury item. "We are replacing bathtubs with shower stalls all the time and water options, or ‘toys' as I call them, are more popular than ever," Bob says. "Items once considered a luxury are now commonplace in a bathroom renovation. Body jets, rain showerheads, and heated floors are now standard requests." At the Bathrooms First showroom, Jennifer says they sell the Cadillac of showers, which features a steam room with a built-in bench. "There are body sprays that can be mounted depending on your height and preference," she adds. "Plus there's a ‘rain-hat' shower head that makes you feel like you are showering under a waterfall."

3. Furnish your bathroom

In the bathroom's transition from utility room to luxury spa, real furniture pieces are making a strong statement. Many of the stylish new vanities look more like a beautiful bedroom dresser with a vessel sink floating on top. Large bathrooms often feature a slipper chair or bench seat with storage in order to relax, recline, and read.

4. Getting wired

Technology has revolutionized every other area of life, so why not the bathroom? Imagine starting the day with classical music playing from the built-in speakers in the ceiling or viewing a chick flick while soaking in the tub.

5. The heat is on

"Heated floors have become a standard item in many of the bathroom renovations we do because it's a luxury, but without a lot of extra expense," says Bob at Westend. Radiant heat can be installed under any type of flooring, and provides homeowners with the comfort of stepping out of the shower onto a warm floor with the use of a programmable thermostat.

6. Bringing the outdoors in

The tranquility of a spa bath often relies on the elements we find in nature. Natural elements like granite, limestone, slate, and wood create warmth, and are often paired with natural textures like silk, linen, and grass-cloth in the décor. Using materials that are natural and sustainable is very much in keeping with the trend toward "green" bathrooms.

7. Fancy faucets

The selection of faucets and accessories is endless. Linda describes the variety as "anything from very ornate to very minimalist wall-mount tap sets, and everything in between." Chrome finishes are currently the most popular choices, as well as brushed or polished nickel. "The trend toward coppers and antique finishes is over," says Linda.

8. The great wall

In the quest for a serene spa retreat, wall-mounted fixtures keep lines clean and uncluttered. From cabinetry to faucets, the new trend is to mount them to the wall which gives the impression that hard surfaces in the bathroom are floating. This approach makes the space feel fluid, keeping with the minimalist style of the spa retreat.

9. Sparkle time

Glass tiles are the hottest material in bathrooms and showing up all over Ottawa's bathrooms in every size. From the floor to the shower, they are a wonderful way to add sparkle and a splash of colour. Panels of glass can create an open concept look in the shower area, while glass vessel bowl sinks resting above the vanity remain a strong trend that can be modern, traditional or just plain fun. These small details in a space contribute to the feeling of ultimate serenity in a spa bath.

10. Going green

When deciding to renovate, Linda advises choosing a designer who is environmentally conscious and aware of the green products and solutions that are available. Plus greening your bathroom doesn't mean just using eco-friendly materials. "Eco-wise technologies can help achieve a spa-inspired experience while using less water," says Bob, adding that water savers in showerheads and high-efficiency dual-flush toilets make sense.

Colour trends

"Pale watery blues and soft green colours are popular choices because they work with the spa theme to create a soothing environment," says Debbie Lacombe, interior decorator and manager at the Benjamin Moore store on St. Joseph Boulevard. "Sea foam, ocean air, and iceberg are among my favourites." Written by Carrie Irvine




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